Georgetown fell short in their bid to upset the Villanova Wildcats. While the visitors closed the gap in the second half, the Wildcats' hot start was far too much to overcome; leaving the home team ahead by 13 at the final buzzer, 84-71. Villanova was rather consistent from the floor, connecting on about 50% throughout the game, and 32% from deep, while the Hoyas struggled with the long ball, making just 4-of-26 (15%) through the final buzzer.
Georgetown provided only lukewarm resistance in the first half, allowing the Wildcats to cruise to a 46-27 lead at the break. Seniors Ryan Arcidiacono and Daniel Ochefu were leading the way in their final regular season game at the Wells Fargo Center with nine and eight points, respectively, while Kris Jenkins was locked in for nine points of his own early on. They looked like a team running a practice, with crisp passes and good off-ball movement to generate good looks. In the first half, the Wildcats recorded 14 assists on 16 made field goals.
Georgetown also suffered when big man Isaac Copeland picked up some quick fouls, taking three into the intermission and spending some key minutes on the bench as a result.
Despite that, the first player to foul out of the game was Villanova's Mikal Bridges, who checked out with under four minutes left after being particularly active for the Wildcats on defense. Georgetown's D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera was next, picking up his terminal-foul right around the 3-minute mark -- after picking up all five in the second half.
Phil Booth also fouled out of the game with under-one minute left and the Wildcats leading 84-66.
Smith-Rivera had an awful shooting performance for the Hoyas, but contributed 7 rebounds and 7 assists nonetheless. L.J. Peak was the beneficiary of some of those assists, scoring a large plurality of the Hoyas' points (31) on 10-of-16 shooting from the field and 9-of-12 from the free-throw line. The Hoyas out-rebounded Villanova 40-32, including 9-4 on the offensive glass.
Big East Player-of-the-Year candidate Josh Hart ultimately was the points-leader for a balanced Villanova effort, with 18 to go with 7 rebounds and 5 assists. Jenkins finished the game with 17 points, 8 rebounds and 3 assists; while Ryan Arcidiacono contributed 16 points in his regular-season finale for the team, grabbing 5 rebounds, dishing 5 assists, and snagging 3 steals. Daniel Ochefu also turned in a strong performance, with 6 rebounds, 4 assists and an even 10 points.
The loss dropped Georgetown even further below-.500 for the season; their worst performance under John Thompson III.
Villanova had already locked up the top seed in the Big East tournament next week, so the victory today was more about solidifying their argument for a top-seed and building momentum for what they hope to be a deep March run. With their sprint away from Georgetown to open the game, the 'Cats looked like a team poised to make a run next week in New York, and make a case to slot into the Brooklyn/Philadelphia route through the NCAA tournament.
It was also a celebration of the graduating seniors. The crowd gave a standing ovation to both scholarship seniors as they checked out of the game; leaders on the court over the last four years, and one of the most successful classes in Jay Wright's tenure, despite their disappointing results in the NCAA tournament the last three years. They are motivated to cap their tenure on the Main Line with a memorable tournament run.
Standing O for Ochefu and & big hug from Jay as he leaves his last regular season game for Nova.— Dan Gelston (@APgelston) March 5, 2016
Arcidiacono made a no-look pass to Josh Hart in the lane to record his 500th career assist with Villanova.
Arch Madness! Arcidiacono gets rousing standing O from crowd. Hugs all down the Nova bench.— Dan Gelston (@APgelston) March 5, 2016
More than 20,000 fans made it to the game at the Wells Fargo Center. The house will surely be packed again if the Wildcats advance to the round-of-16 in Philadelphia.
Wildcats hoist Big East trophy. pic.twitter.com/1K5iJ4LCgx— Dan Gelston (@APgelston) March 5, 2016